The Shorty Awards honor the best of social media and digital. View this season's finalists!

Special Project

Special Project
From the 11th Annual Shorty Awards

Vacations are Good for You with Doctor Mike Varshavski

Entered in Multi-Platform Partnership


Endless sunshine. Natural wonder. Legendary theme parks. If you can dream it, you can do it in Kissimmee. Central Florida has been a storied family vacation spot for decades, but Experience Kissimmee faced challenges in bringing visitors to the destination, including tough competition from Visit Orlando and a new brand that had yet to build up the years of brand equity the destination found itself up against. That's why Experience Kissimmee's participation in US Travel's Project: Time Off initiative that launched on National Plan for Vacation Day presented a strong platform from which they could share and amplify their communication. On average, 54% of Americans fail to use their time off, creating a stockpile of over 660 million unused vacation days. With these numbers, Experience Kissimmee saw a big opportunity to teach people about their hidden gems. They knew that the right partnership combined with stunning footage would be the best way.

Our marketing objectives for this campaign partnership were to:

• Deepen and strengthen awareness of our brand, destination, and the pillars of our offering including theme parks, eco-tourism, and vacation homes

• Drive our potential visitors deeper through the path-to-purchase funnel by inspiring them to visit, read our trip planning content, and visit our partner sites

• Generate more (and louder) positive conversations about our net destination across our owned social channels and through earned messages

Strategy and Execution

A year-long, fully integrated campaign with activation spikes timed to sync up with our stakeholders' travel planning cycle - this was the vision. Using Project Time Off's National Plan for Vacation Day as a springboard in January, we launched a campaign designed to showcase all Experience Kissimmee has to offer, using the umbrella messaging: Vacations are Good for You.

And that's where current Shorty Nominee for Breakout YouTuber of the Year —Doctor Mike Varshavski—came in.

Doctor Mike is a Board Certified FM Physician out of New York City. He is the most followed doctor on social media with 3M Instagram followers, 130K Twitter followers, over 800K Facebook followers, and over 3M YouTube subscribers.


The campaign kicked off on National Plan for Vacation Day with a new video showcasing Doctor Mike experiencing the best Kissimmee has to offer and telling viewers that vacations are good for you. This video was supported by organic and paid social media posts by both Experience Kissimmee and Doctor Mike himself.


In February, Doctor Mike took part in a branded activation in Philadelphia, a target market. There, a life-sized vacation home in the King of Prussia Mall allowed guests to interact with Doctor Mike and enter to win a trip to Kissimmee. This event was complemented by live streaming video interviews with Doctor Mike on Experience Kissimmee's Facebook page.

Also in February, Doctor Mike created and released his own Experience Kissimmee video on YouTube. “7 Shocking, PROVEN Health Benefits of Vacation" featured Doctor Mike explaining the benefits of vacations, providing real, medically-sound reasons for downtime, mixed with footage of Kissimmee.


In the summer, Doctor Mike returned to Kissimmee to experience and film more activities. This time, the video was titled “Facing My BIGGEST Fears | SCORPIONS, SPIDERS, PLANES + More". In addition to showcasing iconic moments that can happen in Kissimmee at well-known theme park destinations, the video also shone a spotlight on other attractions from scorpion interactions It earned over 500k views. This piece of the campaign was also supported by social and blog content.


In September, Experience Kissimmee provided an engaging backdrop for one of Doctor Mike's regular content features - Curbside Consult. Social content from Doctor Mike's and Experience Kissimmee's accounts distributed the content to target audiences.


December marked the end of the Doctor Mike “Vacations are Good for You" campaign - so we went out with a festive bang. It began with a new shoot, this time done at Doctor Mike's New York City apartment. We captured him discussing the holiday season, and providing tips on how to stay healthy and happy. The video also marked the launch of a sweepstakes - with a trip to Kissimmee for a family of four up for grabs.

The December content was supported by a series of short Instagram videos, featuring Doctor Mike sharing tips and memories of his time in Kissimmee and paid tactics to boost posts related to his new video and the contest.


Experience Kissimmee's Doctor Mike campaign was a success, surpassing every goal set. Plus, the top National Plan Your Vacation Day social media post was our campaign's launch post from Doctor Mike—beating out content by Las Vegas, Visit California, Myrtle Beach, and Virginia.

• Over 46,000 leads generated by the holiday contest

• Over 700k video views of Doctor Mike's Experience Kissimmee YouTube videos

• More than 3.9M impressions on Doctor Mike's social media posts

• An engaging Facebook Live with Doctor Mike, reaching 14,375 people

• 260K likes and more than 2.8K comments from Doctor Mike's event posts on Instagram

• 605 registrations and 563 opt-ins to the Experience Kissimmee newsletter—a 93% conversion rate - connected to the Philadelphia activation


To measure our success, we watch search trends and reach, to better understand how our brand is infiltrating the category. We measure these by looking at how trends impact direct traffic to our site - which means more and more people are aware of the brand/destination and, as a result, are visiting To this end, YoY, we saw a 150% organic increase in pageviews to the booking page of the site -

And, more significantly, in the same time period, we saw over 40,000 new referring pages to the Experience Kissimmee site. This means 40,000 new sites have interest/cause to drive traffic to the brand.


Video for Vacations are Good for You with Doctor Mike Varshavski

Entrant Company / Organization Name

VERB Interactive, Experience Kissimmee


Entry Credits